Oilers vs. Blue Jackets Post-Game: All Hail The New First Line

Jonathan Willis
October 22 2009 10:38PM

  • Edmonton Oilers: 6
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: 4

 

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

  1. Dustin Penner.  I'm not sure if everyone's abandoned the 'Penner's fat and lazy' story line that has been overplayed for the last two years, but it's pretty clear that after a five point (two goals, three assists) effort and a standing ovation from the crowd at Rexall, the average fan is more than willing to give him a fresh slate.
  2. Lubomir Visnovsky.  Visnovsky had three points on the night and played a calm, cerebral game while the rest of the Oilers' puck-moving defence corps (Gilbert to some degree, but especially Grebeshkov) were busy with brain cramps and giveaways.  He also scored the game winner.
  3. Ales Hemsky.  It's not every night that the third star manages five points, but Hemsky recorded a goal and four assists tonight, and looked as good as he's looked since, well... the Columbus game last year.

Turning Point

I'm actually not a big believer in turning points, but if there was one tonight I thought it was when Dustin Penner charged the net with the puck right after the Oilers went down four to one.  He'd end up scoring a goal just 17 seconds after Kristian Huselius had put Columbus ahead by three goals.

Random Thoughts

  • Brutal, brutal night for Denis Grebeshkov.  He was a big part of the reason that Columbus had a four to one lead to start the game.
  • I've been calling on Sam Gagner to replace Shawn Horcoff on the top powerplay unit for roughly a year and a half, and with his performance tonight maybe he'll get a prolonged look. 
  • The Oilers powerplay scored three goals (including Nilsson's empty-netter) against the league's best penalty-kill.  Entering this game, Columbus had scored three short-handed goals while allowing only one powerplay goal against.
  • Dustin Penner shot the puck 11 times tonight.  That's more shots than J-F Jacques, Andrew Cogliano, and Ethan Moreau have had all season.
  • Horcoff and Moreau were playing together late.  Despite Quinn's aversion to matching lines, I wonder if this team may be moving toward a designated hard-matched checking line.

From the Press Conference

"Right now, [Penner]'s a complete player."
"That gap where we gave up was less our forward line than our defence."
I'm sure it's just how [Gilbert and Grebeshkov] been taught and how they've played for several years. A lot of teams have played that contained sort of way for many years... are these guys capable? I believe they are, yes."

Comment of the Night

Ronaldo, 2:08 PM:

 

It seems like it has been like FOREVER since they like last played. Hurry up 7:30pm.

 

6-3 Oilers (Pennerx2, Gagner, Vish, Cogs, Nilsson)

GOOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Not a perfect prediction, but substitute Hemsky for Cogliano and give Columbus one more goal and it would have been bang on.  Pretty impressive.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Morghasm
October 23 2009, 09:30AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I notice a lot of people creditting the resurgence to Gagner vs. Horcoff; it seems to me the bigger switch is PEnner vs. Jacques.

Dustin Penner had more points last night than J-F Jacques has on his career.

I'm with you on this, JW - I'd been pushing for Penner on the first line since he started getting the shaft last season - the Penner + Hemsky combination has such huge potential. Penner makes some room, Hemsky makes the play, either one has the hands to finish.

On a related note, I actually thought that Horcoff had a decent game last night - he made some great shut-down plays and rallied up a few chances in there too. I think he really is made for more of a 2nd line role, and he looked good in it.

And could you believe Nillson laying the body? By that point in the game I thought I had entered some kind of alternate universe. The best alternate universe EVER.

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#52 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 23 2009, 09:44AM
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Morghasm wrote:

I'm with you on this, JW - I'd been pushing for Penner on the first line since he started getting the shaft last season - the Penner + Hemsky combination has such huge potential. Penner makes some room, Hemsky makes the play, either one has the hands to finish.

On a related note, I actually thought that Horcoff had a decent game last night - he made some great shut-down plays and rallied up a few chances in there too. I think he really is made for more of a 2nd line role, and he looked good in it.

And could you believe Nillson laying the body? By that point in the game I thought I had entered some kind of alternate universe. The best alternate universe EVER.

Ha! That was a huge hit. For a split second (before I remembered he was injured) I thought it was Stone. When I heard the announcer say 'Nilsson' I was thinking "umwut?".

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#53 Next Year Country
October 23 2009, 10:11AM
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STAR ROCKETS IN FLIGHT ... THURSDAY EVENING DELIGHT!

Well, Kevin looks a bit smarter now. Shades of The Big M. Great to see. My ankles aren't too sore because I always thought that Penner could be a much better player and, although I was disappointed, I never gave up on him.

BTW, Heatley has played 10 games and has 6 and 6 for 12. Penner has 7 and 7 in 9 games, and the total for Penner, Cogs, and Smid in 9 games is 9 and 14 for 23.

The Khabibulin deal looks really good. Aside from his play, which has been great, I was really impressed with the interview he did on HNIC. He has a really mature, team-oriented attitude. I hope that Pat plays JDD enough to see what he has on a consistent basis. I think he can become a very good goalie for us. To date I have liked what he has done, considering the poor way that he was brought along by the organization. He seems to be a good team guy with a positive attitude.

As for chasing big names as we have done the past two years, I would rather develop our guys (we have some exciting prospects in the pipeline), and sign character guys that want to be here. The coaches are moving this team to a good place in terms of attitude and play. Lots of potential is being realized.

Now if we can only crush the Flames on Saturday, so that my blood pressure doesn't go through the roof again, like it did in the two losses in our rink. It absolutely drives me crazy to have the Flameout fans jeering the Oiler fans and laughing when they walk out of the building, having beaten us. JERKS!

There are only two days in Oil Country. Game Day and Waiting For Game Day. I haven't enjoyed hockey this much since 2006.

I hope Big Mac plays on Saturday, and lets not give up on Nilsson, Brownlee.

STAR ROCKETS IN FLIGHT!!!

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